Calls for David Cameron's Resignation Escalate in Panama Papers Fallout
Massive protest planned for Saturday as lawmakers demand prime minister step down over offshore finances
British Prime Minister David Cameron is facing increasing calls to resign in the wake of revelations that he had profited from offshore tax havens and personally intervened to prevent a crackdown on tax evasion in the United Kingdom.
Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower who in 2013 exposed the U.S. government's mass surveillance operations against citizens and foreign allies, said Thursday on Twitter that the "next 24 hours could change Britain."
Snowden made reference to Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson's near-instantaneous leave of absence from office after the massive Panama Papers leak over the weekend revealed he, too, had a personal investment in an offshore bank account.
"In Iceland, 10% of all voters were in the streets within 24 hours, and for less," Snowden wrote, also noting the #resigncameron hashtag trending on British social media.
Meanwhile, a large-scale protest is scheduled to take place outside 10 Downing Street on Saturday morning. A Facebook event page for the protest reads, "Does the Prime Minister think we're stupid?"
"He preaches about 'tough decisions' whilst cutting funding for disability benefits, social care and other essential services....If the government bothered to make rich people pay tax we could afford to look after everyone," the organizers wrote.
Several members of the left-wing Labour party have also joined the call for Cameron's resignation. In an interview with Sky News on Friday, Labour MP John Mann called the prime minister a "hypocrite" and said he had "no choice" but to step down, while deputy leader Tom Watson said that Cameron "condemned other people in public life for being morally wrong whilst knowing he's had investments in these kinds of schemes himself and that shows double standards."
The calls come as Cameron's approval ratings plummet in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said there had been a "significant erosion of trust" from Cameron's equivocating answers earlier this week over his connection to his late father's offshore account. One YouGov poll showed that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is now ahead of Cameron in public approval ratings for the first time.
Corbyn said Friday that Cameron had "misled the public" and "lost the trust of the British people." The Labour leader demanded that Cameron address Parliament over the revelations, which he said raised questions over "personal integrity."
"Tolerance of tax avoidance and tax havens, and inaction on tax evasion, is denying funds to the public purse and leads directly to cuts in services and benefits that are hurting millions of people in Britain," Corbyn said.
Cameron came under intense scrutiny this week after the Panama Papers revealed that his late father, Ian, had been a client of the firm at the center of the scandal. The prime minister finally admitted on Thursday that he had, in fact, profited from his father's trust—which had avoided paying UK taxes for 30 years—and ultimately sold his share for £31,500 (roughly $45,000) before taking office in 2010.